He pastored thousands, he was a sought-after speaker at major conferences and his charisma while preaching kept churchgoers wide awake throughout any church service he led. All of a sudden he decided to pack his bags to form his own church-independent from the Anglican Church which he served for years.
But in Reverend Lukas Katenda’s unexpected journey there apparently is no hidden scandal “apart from the fact that my vision of what a church must be is too big and it cannot be carried out while I am in the Anglican Church because they [Anglican leadership] do not understand my vision”.
The former Anglican pastor said on Monday that he will launch a new church that will be stationed in Windhoek, less than a month after he resigned from the Anglican Church amid allegations of a rift between himself and the Anglican leadership.
“A church is supposed to make disciples but our churches are not doing that. After a long time of meditation and considerations, I have come to realise that there are major historical issues colliding in the Anglican Church and it is clear that what I stand for and what the church stands for is two different things,” said the outspoken clergyman.
“My vision is bigger than that of the church and when you operate within the confines of the church your thoughts are kept in a cage. I cannot allow my vision to be contained in an establishment because my work involves preaching the true gospel, which our people are yearning for, and that has placed me on a collision course with my colleagues, hence I told myself it is better for me to go,” said the 39-year-old.
According to Katenda: “The church must maintain a missionary stance as well as religious relevancy in the modern world.”
Katenda, an ordained priest, will conduct the inauguration in his newly-formed Bethlehem Church (Reformed Anglican) this coming Sunday which will operate from the impoverished and development-starved illegal settlement of Havana.
There are speculations that Katenda’s decision to start his own church movement was a mere reactionary move after the Anglican Church dismissed him from their employ, but he denied such speculations.
“Everything has its own time which only God knows. Just like when Moses killed the Egyptians, it was God’s time. When Martin Luther went out solo into the world, it was God’s time, so believe it, it is the same in my case,” he said.
Katenda maintains that he does not regret any of his sermons, which the Anglican leadership often described as rebellious and too confrontational.
“Pastors cannot only be ceremonial by solemnizing marriages, conducting burials and baptizing people. We have to be more than that if we are to make more disciples.”
Before packing up, Katenda was becoming “Christian famous” in religious circles and his way of preaching is said to have resonated with many young people who have over the years stopped attending conventional churches, which are seen by many as having failed to evolve with time.
Katenda, who holds a Master of Theology from a Seminary in the USA, walked away at the peak of his pastoral career and probably the most popular clergyman within the Anglican Church in Namibia.
In his world of big conference crowds, multiple services each week, and instant access to social media, the notion of pastoral care had begun to change. His fame was straining his work as a pastor to a certain extent, but that did not stop Katenda from resonating and adapting modern preaching techniques.
“I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”
He quotes Matthew 28:19, which reads “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to.
“That is what the church must do but it is not happening. We are not making disciples as commanded by the Bible. If you look at the people that call themselves Christians, you can clearly see fake Christianity because they do things that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible meaning they are far from being disciples in the true sense,” he said.
He said: “My aim is to grow and lead a matured church that is prepared to make disciples that are mentally, physically and spiritually willing to follow the teaching of the Almighty. If Christians want to enjoy the fruits of peace, then the church must emphasize the need for true Christianity and it must have the ability to make disciples. Yes people are baptized, but that alone does not make them disciples.”
Just last year, Katenda was appointed as the Academic Dean at the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS). He also acts as NETS’s principal.
Katenda tendered his resignation, effective from 1 January 2017, to the Anglican Diocese of Namibia.
In a letter dated 17 January, 2017, that bears Bishop Luke Lungile Pato’s signature, all the Anglican parishes in Namibia were informed that Katenda had resigned from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and thus has no right to act as a priest in any of the congregations of the Anglican Church in the region.
Katenda said he will never relinquish the priesthood of the general Anglican Church, let alone that of the Church of God as a Body of Christ because his resignation limited to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and not other parts of the Anglican Church worldwide.
“I will remain an Anglican priest but not under the episcopal oversight of the Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Namibia. A complicated situation made it impossible for me to remain there,” noted Katenda.
Katenda’s reformist movement is not new to the Anglican Church, as renowned Anglican clerics like John Wesley and his brother Charles started the Methodist movement some centuries ago.